Sensory Integration Activities for Oral Defensiveness in Children

Parents of children born prematurely who have sensory integration issues found these activities to be helpful.

By Virginia Brick and Jacque Shatako

Young children with feeding issues related to sensory integration disorder, tactile defensiveness, and poor motor coordination can benefit from these stimulation activities at home by parents.

A NUK oral massager for the gums (found in most pharmacies)can be used across your child's gum, tongue and around the sides of his mouth.

A small finger brush (a little thing that fits over the finger and is used to brush baby's gums.

A strong piece of sterile tubing can be used for biting under close supervision.

Offer foods of different textures: pretzels, crackers, puddings, jell-o, ice cream, mashed potatoes, etc.

Drinks of different temperature and "fizz". Ice water, warmer water and the odd "coke" which has that fizzle effect in the mouth.

A regular toothbrush which we use the normal way plus brushing across his tongue and the sides of his mouth. The suggestion of the electric toothbrush would work too if the vibration is not startling.

Rubbing your child's face, around his mouth, with cloths of different textures of fabrics (like satin, velvet, etc.).

Put peanut butter on his upper lip and have him lick it he could learn to use his tongue to locate the food.

Take french fries, dip them in ketchup and just let him suck the ketchup off. Eventually he will learn to take small bites of the fries, too.

Lots of positive reinforcement during eating attempts. Read books to him at the table, before turning the page, he has to swallow a bite of food. Or he could get tokens for eating a certain amount. Then he could cash the tokens in for something he wanted. Or you can put stickers in a notebook for him.